What does it mean to be enlightened and spiritually awakened? For some people, it seems like a mystical and unattainable idea. When I began my spiritual path many years ago, I had no clue what it meant to be spiritually awakened or enlightened; I just knew that I needed help. So I dove into any book I could find on the topic. Here are some key lessons I’ve learned along the way and a handful of the most impactful books.
For many, spiritual development begins when you are seeking refuge from pain.
This is where I started. Life can be incredibly difficult, which drives you to seek new ways to ease suffering and find inner peace. One of the best spiritual books I’ve read is Eternal Dharma: How to Find Spiritual Evolution Through Surrender and Embrace Your Life’s True Purpose by Vishnu Swarmi.
Discovering that I was approaching my spiritual journey as a Hurt Purist gave me a fresh perspective on where I may be losing sight of the path.
In my entire personal growth journey, this is been one of the most critical insights that helped me understand how I was actually creating more pain for myself by believing the material world (which was full of hurt and pain) was separate from the spiritual (which has offered me a place of peace).
I was struggling to reconcile them because I have experienced so much suffering. Vishnu Swami does a beautiful job of explaining why this happens for those of us who have experienced immense pain in this life. As you continue to explore your spiritual life and discover the top books I’ve listed below, I hope you’ll take this lesson into your journey.
The Hurt Spiritual Purist
The Hurt Purist is the one who is really struggling with life. You feel like you’ve had a lot of bad luck, and you have dealt with a lot of suffering. This has led you to a spiritual path as a way to ease your pain, and while this is a good thing, it can create a strong divide within. A hurt purest feels the world is a bad, evil, and distressing place, which causes a binary view between the material world and the spiritual world.
The Hurt Purist thinks that the material world is evil and terrible because they’ve only found refuge in spirituality.
It’s easy to forget that it is one and the same, we are one.
When you begin to separate the material world from the spiritual world, you lose sight of the path. The Hurt Purist may idolize a spiritual figure, such as a guru, prophet, or saint, and project their binary views onto that figure.
You may imagine that this leader is “pure” and has no material involvement, making them infallible.
You compare yourself with this pure spiritual leader and feel like a failure because you’ll never live up to that ideal. The spiritual leader doesn’t live by these false binary standards because this idea of purity is your mind, not the Guru’s.
This makes you feel incompetent and inferior.
You see the only way to end your suffering is to be like the spiritual leader you’ve pictured in your head. Perhaps, you’ve daydreamed of running away to a monastery because you feel that’s the only way to disconnect and find peace truly. All of this stems from the wrong belief that the material and spiritual realms are separate. We live in a connected, integrated, and spiritual world.
Often, fully enlightened people are masters at dealing with worldly material matters.
Such enlightened people are respected not for retreating from the world but because they possess spiritual love, which is the most beautiful thing in existence. Yes, there is pain and illusion in the world, but that doesn’t make it bad or wrong. The world is neither good nor bad; it’s about your relationship with it. Here is a beautiful short story that illustrates our illusion of the world.
Have you ever heard the story of a Chinese farmer?
A farmer and his son had a beloved horse who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away, and their neighbors exclaimed, “Your horse ran away; what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not.”
A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild horses back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out, “Your horse has returned and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not.”
Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the horses, and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. The neighbors cried, “Your son broke his leg; what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not.”
A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through town, recruiting all boys for the army. They did not take the farmer’s son because he had a broken leg. The neighbors shouted, “Your boy is spared; what tremendous luck!” To which the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
Essentially, the story highlights that we must detach from life’s events because we can’t predict the future.
Detachment does not mean becoming devoid of feelings; it simply means you accept and find love in life’s events, knowing that life will continue to unfold.
Suffering is part of the human condition, when you spend all your time fighting it, you succumb to the suffering. When you learn to focus on the joys of life by becoming more present, you embrace life knowing it will constantly change, and you release the need to control it.
With this, you learn to embrace the material world and its unpredictability. Ultimately, enlightenment and spiritual awakening are about embracing the material world in a spiritual way. That’s how you become a ripple in the world to create more love, peace, and happiness by knowing you can show up this way even in the face of pain and suffering because you truly understand that it is all one. We are the universe, and the universe is us.
Overcoming the Myth of the Spiritual and Material Divide
This world, which has manifested from the divine, can and must be used as a tool for entering into spiritual enlightenment.
A passionate, loving relationship with the divine is what leads to spiritual advancement. And spiritual growth results in a detachment from self-centered, ego-based interests. Having a strong sense of detachedness is an essential and powerful part of spiritual growth as it leads to detachment from worldly vices.
Yet, it’s critical to remember that disengagement and detachment are two very different things.
Pure spirituality has everything to do with spiritual love, devotion, and detachment, and nothing to do with distancing oneself from the world’s elements.
I hope you will take this lesson on embracing life, suffering, and unpredictability and work to release your need to control circumstances. With that said, here are a list of books that have made a radical difference in my own spiritual awakening.
Here are the Best Books for Spiritual Seekers
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom Don Don Miguel Ruiz
This first book based on Ancient Toltec wisdom changed my life forever and is always at the top of my recommendation list. We do everything based on agreements we’ve made – with ourselves, with other people, with God, with life. The most critical are self-limiting agreements with make with ourselves that create needless suffering. Check out The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom Don Don Miguel Ruiz here.
Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh
As a Buddhist, I have read nearly every book from Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, and this book brought me incredible insight. Throughout two millennia, Buddha and Jesus Christ have left behind a legacy of teachings and practices that have shaped the lives of billions of people.
In this teaching, Thich Nhat Hanh explores the common ground between Christianity and Buddhism, including compassion and holiness. Thich Nhat Hanh brings an appreciation of the beauty of Christianity that can only be conveyed by an outsider. As someone who struggled with accepting organized religion, this book helped give me a new perspective on it. Check out Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh.
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
This is one of the best spiritual awakening books that I’ve ever read. Eckhart Tolle is a world-renowned spiritual teacher who helps you live a healthier and happier life by living in the present moment. Through the Power of Now, you learn to let go of your analytical mind and its false self, the ego. This book gave me a true perspective of what it actually means to be mindful and live in the present moment. Check out The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle.
Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Joe Dispenza
Do you feel trapped by your genetic predispositions? Do you feel like you’re hardwired and your health and happiness can’t change? As you read this remarkable book, you will learn how emerging science can empower all of us to create the reality we want. Dr. Joe Dispenza does an amazing job of combining lessons from the fields of quantum physics, neuroscience, brain chemistry, biology, and genetics to show you what is truly possible for you. Check out Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Joe Dispenza.
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams by Deepak Chopra
In this bestselling book by Deepak Chopra, you’ll learn seven powerful natural laws that can help you succeed in every area of your life. This book shatters the myth that you can only achieve success through sheer hard work and ambition. Two of the laws specifically had a huge impact for me.
The Law of Karma indicates our actions generate energy that similarly returns to us.
So by choosing actions that bring happiness and success to others, we ensure that the flow of happiness and success comes back to us. For me, this helped me see how my energy, throughs, and actions were impacting the life I was creating. I wasn’t as powerless as I was raised to believe.
The Law of Least Effort is another law that impacted me. We must accept the things we cannot change, stop fighting against what is happening, and stop worrying and feeling anxious about the future.
There is no denying that life can be unpredictable at times, but trying to control the outcome of events on your own is fighting against what is meant to be.
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
Another good read from Eckhart Tolle, this modern classic expands on these powerful ideas from The Power of Now. You’ll learn that by transcending ego-based consciousness, you can achieve personal happiness and end conflict and suffering throughout the world as well.
Ultimately, it’s the attachment to ego that causes anger, jealousy, and unhappiness. I absolutely love all the work of Eckhart Tolle as he is on a mission to help the world become humbled, enlightened, and pure. Check out A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.
Eternal Dharma: How to Find Spiritual Evolution through Surrender and Embrace Your Life’s True Purpose by Vishnu Swami
A beautiful spiritual guide to finding your purpose. Vishnu Swami, who became the youngest Swami in Vedic monasticism at the young age of 23, takes the ancient Eastern knowledge of Veda to guide you through a journey of understanding and empowerment. When you align yourself with the natural flow of existence, you gain clarity on all spiritual and religious paths and access Universal Power. Check out Eternal Dharma: How to Find Spiritual Evolution through Surrender and Embrace Your Life’s True Purpose by Vishnu Swami.
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael Singer
I first read this book when I was at an immensely painful part of my own growth journey. The Untethered Soul offers simple yet profound answers to many questions like how do you release the pain and suffering that’s been plaguing your life? Or, how do you break free from limitations that have kept you feeling trapped? This book will transform your relationship with yourself and the world around you.
Michael A. Singer is a spiritual teacher and author, in this book he shares lessons on using meditation and a path of mindfulness to achieve happiness and self-realization. He shares how you can learn to develop consciousness to live in the present moment and let go of painful memories and thoughts. This book was incredibly impactful for me, and I think it would be for you too. Check out The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael Singer.
Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon by Joe Dispenza
If you aren’t familiar with Dr. Joe Dispenza, I highly recommend you check him out. Dr. Joe focuses on the mind, body connection and how our thoughts truly impact our reality and even our health. This book combines profound scientific information with ancient wisdom, he shows how ordinary people like you and me can live a more abundant life.
The human spirit is quite literally supernatural, and we can enhance our creative abilities by aligning with appropriate knowledge and instruction.
Human spirit is quite literally supernatural, and we can enhance our creative abilities by aligning with appropriate knowledge and instruction.
When we tune into frequencies beyond our material world, we receive more coherent and orderly streams of consciousness and energy. It is possible to initiate profoundly mystical transcendental experiences by intentionally altering the chemistry of our brains. Check out Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon by Joe Dispenza.
You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter by Joe Dispenza
Could you heal without drugs or surgery by thinking alone? It happens more often than you might think. Dispenza recounts numerous documented cases where placebos have reversed cancer, heart disease, depression, crippling arthritis, and even Parkinson’s tremors.
Dr. Joe also describes the cases of others who have died due to a hex or voodoo curse-or after being misdiagnosed with a deadly illness. This book changed my entire perspective on the power of the human mind and our ability to connect with our higher power. Check out You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter by Joe Dispenza.
The Secret by Rhona Byrne
Several years ago, The Secret was made into a movie, but it was actually based on a book by Rhonda Byrne. This book contains the wisdom of modern-day teachers – people who have achieved health, wealth, and happiness using the Secret. With these simple secrets, you can increase your wealth, health, and happiness.
There is a lot of truth in both the lessons in the book and the movie, despite some people calling it hokey. You will change your life forever if you can release your preconceived notions and have an open mind to embrace these lessons. Check out The Secret by Rhona Byrne.
The Mindful Way Through Depression by Jon Kabat-Zinn
This may have been the very first self-help book book I ever read. This was an absolutely life-changing book in my life. If you struggle with depression in any form, this is a great place to start your mindfulness practice.
The objective of this book is to help you break the mental habits that can lead to despair.
It does this by combining the wisdom of four internationally renowned cognitive therapy and mindfulness experts. This book is such an easy-to-use self-help tool and it’s based on methods clinically proven to reduce the recurrence of chronic unhappiness.
If you’ve ever heard my story, you know that I healed from major reoccurring depression… this was the beginning that helped me see how I could become more resilient. This book teaches you how to become stronger in the face of life’s challenges by understanding the psychological mechanisms that lead to depression. Check out The Mindful Way Through Depression by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents by Lindsay Gibson
I wanted to include this book because while it may not seem outright like a book that will help on your spiritual journey, it can help you release attachment to pain caused in your childhood which can stall your spiritual progress.
I will be totally honest, this book was very difficult for me to get through, it took some time. I had to come back over and over again. I would listen to a chapter and take some time to process and cope with the lessons before I could move on. If you have unresolved pain from your childhood, this may be incredibly impactful for you as well.
Clinical psychologist Lindsay Gibson exposes the destructive nature of emotionally immature or unavailable parents in this first-of-its-kind book. As a result, you learn how these parents created a sense of neglect.
You will ultimately learn how to heal from your childhood’s pain and confusion.
If you’re intrigued by this but you’re on the fence because you are feeling a little guilty even thinking you had a difficult childhood, I encourage you to at least pick this book up and read a few chapters. For years, I maintained steadfast (even after years of therapy) that my childhood was fine. I denied the physical and mental abuse and the neglect because that’s what I was taught. If you want a different life, you have to be willing to pull back the layers and look at the hard truth. Check out Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents by Lindsay Gibson.
Recovering from Emotionally Immature Parents: Practical Tools to Establish Boundaries and Reclaim Your Emotional Autonomy by Lindsay Gibson
In this important sequel to Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents, Lindsay Gibson offers powerful tools to help you step back and protect yourself at the first sign of an emotional takeover. You’ll learn how to ensure that your emotions and needs are respected, and break free from the coercive control of emotionally immature parents which you may not fully recognize yet.
Being raised by emotionally immature parents can make you feel lonely and neglected. Setting limits and expressing your feelings may be very difficult for you. As you develop adult relationships, you likely attract emotionally immature people, since that is what you know. This fuels your pain and suffering. And for many women especially, this leads to imposter syndrome.
Furthermore, your parents may still mock your emotions as you get older; they disregard and discount your reality, and try to control and diminish your sense of emotional autonomy. This is exactly what happened in my life. This book gave me the tools and insights to learn how to stop letting their toxic behavior control my life. Check out Recovering from Emotionally Immature Parents: Practical Tools to Establish Boundaries and Reclaim Your Emotional Autonomy by Lindsay Gibson.
The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, & Courage by Brené Brown
Not necessarily a book but this is a collection of audio teachings on authenticity, connection, and courage. Dr. Brené Brown challenges the idea that vulnerability is weakness and helps us realize that vulnerability is a true measure of courage. “In our culture,” teaches Dr. Brené Brown, “we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love.”
For most of my life, I hid in fear of being seen. Emotionally and physically, I would hide because I was taught from a young age, that I was flawed. I learned that my “true self” was not good enough. Once I began to heal and learn self-love, I realized that my truth was kind, emotional, and generous. I began to bring that to the world and I began to feel more alignment and happiness in return. Check out The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, & Courage by Brené Brown.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
Initially, I was hesitant to pick up this book, but I’m glad I did. I read this at a time when I was really struggling with people at work. I tend to take things very personally and feel very connected to the work that I do. This book helped give me a new perspective on how to look at things differently so I could release some of the pain I was creating.
This book turns positivity on its head and really talks about the power of detachment.
We’ve been told that living a happy, rich life is all about positive thinking. “F**k positivity,” says Mark Manson. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” We can begin to find courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop avoiding painful truths and start facing them. Check out The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.
Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope by Mark Manson
A non-traditional look at enlightenment and what it means to live in an imperfect world. Mark Manson has an interesting way of giving you hope in situations that feel desperate. In this book, he discusses how religion and politics have become inextricably linked and how using money, entertainment and the internet are psychologically destroying us. I think the added humor to such a serious topic makes this book incredibly relatable. Check out Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope by Mark Manson.
The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman
While this book was originally released in 1992, it’s still on the top of my list for everyone to read when it comes to understanding how you relate to those you love. This book outlines five ways that we can express and experience love with our romantic partners.
Very often, we feel a strong disconnect with our partners because we show love in entirely different ways.
It seems like such a small thing, yet I’ve seen this disconnect lead to immense pain and suffering. If you have ever felt like your partner is unappreciative or ungrateful, this is a great book to start with. It may be a simple disconnect in how you send and receive love. Check out The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman.
What Are You Hungry For?: The Chopra Solution to Permanent Weight Loss, Well-Being, and Lightness of Soul by Deepak Chopra
This may seem like another odd book to include on this list. Yet, in our modern world, many of us struggle with feeling insecure about our weight and bodies. I have spent years trying to come to terms with my relationship with food, and this book changed my view forever.
This is practical advice for a buried subconscious problem.
We tend to focus on external factors when trying to lose weight and improve our health. Chopra helps you understand why you overeat and look to the external to satisfy an internal need. Check out What Are You Hungry For?: The Chopra Solution to Permanent Weight Loss, Well-Being, and Lightness of Soul by Deepak Chopra.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
Another great read by American professor, lecturer, author, and podcast host and internationally known, Brené Brown. Almost every day, we face the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define vulnerability, or daring greatly.
It takes courage to walk into vulnerability and engage with all our hearts, whether it is in a new relationship, an important meeting, or a difficult family conversation.
This book actually helped me find the courage to begin sharing my own story.
As I knew I wanted to have an impact on the world, I knew I had to find the strength to face uncertainty. This book helped me break out of my comfort zone to step into my greatness. Check out Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown.
Each of these books has had an extraordinary impact on my everyday life.
I know they can have an impact on you as well. If you want to accelerate your spiritual journey, check out the Awakened Mom Academy. I’ve put together years of learning into courses to help you get ahead quickly and with less struggle.
After over a decade of reading, learning, and studying, I was able to release my suffering and experience success. I’ve condensed the most powerful lessons into the Awakened Mom Life Academy.
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